Famous Asian Trails
The Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
The Annapurna Circuit is a trek within the Annapurna mountain range of central Nepal. The length of the route varies between 100-145 miles (160–230 km). It crosses two valleys and encircles the Annapurna massif reaching its highest point at Thorung La pass (5416m/17769 ft) on the edge of the Tibetan plateau.
The Snowman Trek, Bhutan
Travel writer Michael Earle describes the Snowman Trek as 500 years old and crossing 11 passes at 5000 meters along the Tibet-Bhutan border. Along the trail are Buddhist monasteries clinging to the sides of cliffs and secluded villages. Apparently the weather window in October is tight.
“Everest” directed by Baltasar Kormàkur.
This account of the events of the 1996 Everest Disaster (also covered in Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air” in Books) is said to be based on Beck Weathers’ book ‘Left for Dead’ (2000) rather than Krakauer’s account of events. It focuses more tightly on the Rob Hall Adventure Consultants expedition. Characters from Scott Fischer’s and other expeditions make briefer appearances. The film also incorporates the events seen from the perspective of the base camp crew, Rob Hall’s pregnant girlfriend and Beck Weather’s Texan wife back home. This inclusion of the crew and families adds an important human dimension to the more technical information contained in the story, all of which is quite faithfully conveyed.
The cinematography was stunning to watch, managing to convey the smallness of the human beings in the vast Himalayan landscape, and the thundering surround sound makes you feel like you are there on the mountain with them during the storm and avalanches. There are some very fine and convincing central performances, particularly from Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin and Emily Watson. Although many people will know the outcome of the story, the climax of the film remains very moving.
“The Snowman Trek” directed by Ben Clark. (2018)
This documentary follows an expedition to walk the 190 mile Bhutanese trek by mountaineer turned trail runner Ben Clark and ultra marathon runners Anna Frost from New Zealand and Timothy Olsen from Colorado. Apparently it normally takes a month to complete this trail with favourable weather, but Clark’s aim was to break the record and finish it in half that time.
He enlists a local guide, 5 cooks, 2 horse attendants and 21 horses to support himself and his team, but their fast and light ethos clashes with the Bhutanese guide’s way of working. Together they battle through storms, altitude mountain sickness, hypothermia and deteriorating weather, but the team are ultimately forced to bury their differences in order to complete the trek to their original timescale.
I enjoyed the cinematography by Chris Ord and the glance at Bhutanese culture, but felt that the conflicts which were alluded to simmered close to the surface at times.
The above films were purchased online for the normal price.